Mainnet VS Testnet – What’s the Difference?

Mainnets and testnets are terminologies used in cryptocurrency to describe blockchain networks with critical functionalities. Both are networks that allow for the transfer of cryptocurrencies, but they have a different purposes. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences between the two.

What is a Mainnet?

The phrase “mainnet” (short for main network) refers to when a blockchain protocol has been fully created and implemented. It means that transactions are broadcasted, verified, and stored on a distributed ledger (blockchain).

Typically, before a blockchain project’s mainnet is launched, the company will launch a way to raise funds and grow the project’s community. It may be in the form of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO), or any other way.

The money raised is utilized to create blockchain network prototypes, which are subsequently tested during the testnet phase. After that, the team will launch the blockchain’s main network version. It will hopefully be completely installed and functional after conducting bug repairs and depending on the performance of the test network.

Additionally, when prices are difficult to anticipate, the mainnet gives a straightforward way to gauge a blockchain project’s success. On the other hand, it can be changed if open-source groups decide the product needs to be updated or revised.

What Is a Testnet?

A testnet is an experimental network where developers can try, create, or alter functionality. Developers can also monitor the operation of the blockchain network in the testnet. They can fix bugs and other types of network failures in the test network.

The sandbox environment allows developers to experiment, take risks, and find the best possible model to adopt in the Mainnet. Testnets guarantee that Mainnet installations are completed more quickly.

However, all of this happens at a regulated scale. It’s also important to note that the transactions on the test network are simulated or “fake.” The coins on the testnet have no real value outside of the network.

Developers and testers can assess a system’s viability by conducting transactions without risking losing real mainnet funds. The test network is a dynamic and appropriate environment for decentralized application and smart contract testing.

What Is the Importance of a Testnet?

Testnet offers an array of benefits to developers. First is the cost. Each project update, transaction, or deployment has some sort of blockchain fee. The fee will occur often and repeatedly during the testing phase. Testing on the testnet will result in zero cashout, which basically means it’s free.

Another great thing about the test network is its disruption-free. Developers can experiment with the protocol’s features and functionalities without disturbing the main blockchain.

Quality assurance also plays a large role in cryptocurrencies. As organizations migrate to a shift-left approach, several constraints and elements greatly define the validity of a test result. As a result, developers will need a test environment identical to the main network conditions.

The Biggest Differences Summarized

  • Function – The main difference between the mainnet and testnet is how they function to developers. Testnet is a “sandbox” specifically made for testing, while the mainnet is a fully functional blockchain.

  • Operation costs – On the test network, the tokens have no value. On the other hand, the mainnet has a higher operating cost. Every blockchain operation is subject to a fee in the form of tokens with a set value. These procedures include money transfers, staking rewards, and Smart Contract installation.

  • Frequency of transactions – Testnets have a lower transaction frequency than mainnets. It’s only logical as they will not have the same number of users.

  • Published codes – Once the main network is launched, the underlying code will be made public to increase user confidence in the chain. Because the code is continually changing, Testnets will not publish it.

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